I’ve had a bit of a Tom day. First of all I went to the gym to do my routine to get my ankle more mobile. Jimmy has upped the routine and it seems to be working. When I started a few weeks ago I’d limp out of the gym after doing it, now I’m walking quite normally. I’ve also checked with Jimmy that when one of the machines says ‘HIGH HEART RATE’ and flashes a red heart at me, this is a good thing and I’m not about to collapse. I can now wander about for about four hours now before my foot starts to complain as well.

A funny thing did happen at the gym today. It’s one of those computerised gyms with a key you put into each machine that loads your routine onto it so you can change the seat, position of various contraptions and the weights you are using personally. Two of the machines I used were used before me by a very fit lady who must have been in her 70s at least. She has a few decades on me. In both cases I had to decrease the weights for me from the ones she had been using! 

That humiliation over I decided to go into the city centre to my favourite barbershop, BarberBarber, to get my hair cut. Johnny, the owner was in sorting out a few things before he went off for some meetings. He looked amazing….black trousers, black shirt with white clouds on, a black and white houndstooth jacket and a pair of amazing shoes with leather printed to look like black and white zebra skin. Sadly no picture.

Andy was working today. He’s cut my hair before and done it well, as has the tall guy whose name I can’t remember. But I had my hair cut by, to me, a new guy. Frank, or Francesco as his mother would know him, learned to barber in Sicily, he then took his skills to Rome and from there to London where he worked in Johnny’s barbershop just on the edge of the financial district of The City. Johnny has asked him to relocate to Manchester. Francesco has been happy to do this. In London he had to pay a small fortune for a small place, one hour’s travelling time, by Tube, from where he worked. While Manchester isn’t exactly cheap it’s a damn sight less expensive than London which is why a lot of people are relocating here. In Manchester he has a much nicer, and cheaper, apartment just beyond Manchester Arena and he can walk to work in five to ten minutes. 

Francesco said he would give me the ‘perfect’ haircut and this he did. He also persuaded me to have a cutthroat shave. First thing, I’d sacrificed a shower and shave to get to the gym where I could shower afterwards. Lazy Tom! My shave was all quite a performance involving varoius oils and unguents being rubbed into my face, two applications of hot soap being shaved off, hot perfumed towels being applied, eyebrows being shaped. It was all very relaxing and I think I may have booked a week in Taormina, Sicily, Frencesco’s home town. Worse things could have happened I’m sure.

I then went to the Google store in King Street to book a seminar on writing for a blog and I’m having a one on one about the use of social media to promote business. If it doesn’t work for this, it will be useful in my work life. And I got some tickets to see the production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the Royal Exchange. My ankle problem meant that I didn’t see any of their autumn season but they have extended their amazingly popular Christmas treat for a couple of weeks. Something else to look forward to.

Walking back to the tram station in St. Peter’s Square took me through Albert Square past the Town Hall. It’s one of Manchester’s most important and iconic buildings. When people want to show something is coming from Manchester, this Grade 1 listed, Victorian Gothic building is usually what they show. It’s where we welcome important visitors to the city, where we come together to celebrate achievements and where we come together in times of sadness like the Ariana Grande concert atrocity last May. 

Across this building was a banner proclaiming ‘We’ll be back in 2024’ for, yesterday, it closed. This 140 year old building is in dire need of attention. The public areas are, as always, beautiful, but the heating system, the electrics (electricity hadn’t been invented when this building was opened) need upgrading badly. And behind the magnificent façades and the wonderful artworks, the fabric of the building is crumbling. So it will close for six years and hundreds of millions of £ will be spent on bringing it up to standard for the next 150 years. If they do it correctly, being Grade 1 listed, one of the most important buildings in the country, we won’t notice a thing has changed inside when they reopen. The skills that will be developed here restoring this much loved Manchester building, will be transferred to the restoration of the Houses of Parliament in London, a building that, ironically, Manchester Town Hall has often stood in for in movies and TV shows. 

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